T his year is very special for the Ford Motor Co., the Early Ford V-8 Club, the Early Ford V-8 Foundation and, in general, for those enthusiasts who treasure the fabulous 1932 Ford either in its original configuration or in its hot rod mode. According to Larry Erickson, Ford Motor Co. chief designer, the ’32 Ford “was a landmark car for Ford Motor Company, beginning a period of styling dominance for the company and, most significantly, offering the world’s first mass-produced V-8 engine.” Old Cars columnist Ken Gross adds, “Ford’s incomparable Deuce, especially in roadster or coupe guise, remains the quintessential hot rod. It’s truly the car that defined hot rodding, then and now.”
Joe Caputo of Chittenango, N.Y., owns this 1932 Model B three-window (B-520) DeLuxe coupe. Note its front-opening “suicide doors.” This was the only 1932 model with that feature. The chrome windshield is also peculiar to this model. The rumble seat was not standard on this coupe, but was available on special order.
The Deuce is being commemorated in numerous ways throughout 2007.
The Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Event; Grand National Roadster Show in Pomona, Calif.; and Petersen Museum’s Deuce Week were only the beginning of a yearlong celebration. The Petersen Museum will feature a special exhibit, “32 Deuces for 32 Days,” which will include 32 of the most significant Deuces. The exhibit will remain on display until March 21, 2007.
The first of 100 limited-edition 75th Anniversary Dearborn Deuce roadsters manufactured by Hot Rods & Horsepower was auctioned at Barrett-Jackson to raise money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Later this year, the ’32 Ford will be the featured marque in the Great Race.
In 2005, the Ford Motor Co. formed a committee of hot rod journalists and historians to select the top 75 1932 Ford hot rods of all time. A display containing many of the 75 selected cars premiered at the January 2007 Grand National Roadster Show in Pomona, Calif.
As 2007 winds on, the celebration will continue and include displays, shows, books, a calendar, special-edition ’32 Ford pedal cars and much more. Recently published is an outstanding hardbound book, “Deuce: 75 Years of the ’32 Ford” by Robert Genat. Another book, “’32 Ford Deuce” by Tony Thacker, will be published by MBI.
Instead of reinventing the wheel, I am devoting the remainder of this column to providing some facts regarding the history of the Deuce, which are out of the mainstream and not readily available in articles and books devoted to the 1932 Ford.
The ’32 Ford is called the “Deuce” because of the “two” in 32. Yes, you knew that already, but did you ever consider that the 1932 Ford is the only car manufactured that year that is given this designation? The honor of being called “Deuce” singles out a breakthrough vehicle, especially when powered by the legendary V-8, an engine whose reign was not limited to one year. The most popular models, the three- and five-window coupes and the roadster, were destined to become hot rod icons.
When first introduced, the 1932 Fords were referred to as the “Ford V-8” and the “New Ford Four” or “The Improved 4.” The designation “Model B” was not used for the four-cylinder in early publicity about the ’32 Fords. For example, the four Ford dealers mentioned below list the eight and the four on their price lists and did not use “B” to identify the four.
The first authoritative announcement on the plans of the Ford Motor Co. for 1932 was released to newspapers throughout the country for Feb. 11, 1932. The announcement was in the form of a lengthy interview with journalist James Sweinhart. A different and less well-known announcement was sent to Ford dealers on March 3, 1932. This dealer update included some interesting data: Factories worldwide would start mass production the following week; advance orders with deposits numbering 83,560 were on file up to Feb. 24, and three out of four of these were for the new eight; and 50,000 bodies were already made up at that point.
Ford anticipated production of 1,500,000 cars a year. With actual domestic production of passenger cars less than 290,000, that figure was not even close. It should be noted here that 1932 production figures, as quoted in various sources, are not all the same. But, that’s a story for another time. (See page 19 for details on 1932 Ford production.)
The cars were displayed for the first time on Thursday, March 31, 1932. It was not until that morning that prices for the new models were announced. Ford dealers received the list prices F.O.B. Detroit in general letter No. 43 Sales dated March 30. They were also printed in various publications, including the May 1932 issue of Ford News, the April 1932 issue of Automobile Trade Journal and in dealer ads in local newspapers. Freight, delivery, bumpers, spare tire, tube, cover and gas and oil were extra. This will help explain why the prices quoted by dealers were different from the Detroit price.
As an example, the Detroit factory price was $460 for the Standard V-8 roadster. Millenbach Motors in Detroit listed the roadster at $499.25. Hesser & Soden in Chicago quoted $527, and Bibsbee Motor Corp. in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., quoted $547. McCarty-Sherman Ford in Denver advertised the roadster at $460 list, plus $83 freight, $32 gas, oil, bumpers, spare tire, tube and cover for a retail price of $575. The four-cylinder car was always $50 less.
Financing through the Universal Credit Co. was available. As an example, buyers in Chicago made a down payment of $199 on a Standard Tudor and had 12 monthly payments of $36 for a total of $631; the cash delivered price was $567.
Here’s some more information sent to dealers from the Buffalo, N.Y., branch: Five colored steel wheels and safety glass throughout were standard equipment on all DeLuxe types and the Sport Coupe, Cabriolet, Victoria and Convertible Sedan. Standard types would have safety glass as standard equipment in the windshield only. The rumble seat was standard in the DeLuxe roadster, Sport Coupe and Cabriolet, and could be supplied in the Standard roadster, Standard coupe and DeLuxe coupe as optional equipment at $25 list price. The list price for bumpers was $15.